The discovery of Hsp70 domain with cell-penetrating activity

Elena Y. Komarova, Darya A. Meshalkina, Nikolay D. Aksenov, Ivan M. Pchelin, Elena Martynova, Boris A. Margulis, Irina V. Guzhova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Chaperone Hsp70 can cross the plasma membrane of living cells using mechanisms that so far have not received much research attention. Searching the part of the molecule that is responsible for transport ability of Hsp70, we found a cationic sequence composed of 20 amino acid residues on its surface, KST peptide, which was used in further experiments. We showed that KST peptide enters living cells of various origins with the same efficiency as the full-length chaperone. KST peptide is capable of carrying cargo with a molecular weight 30 times greater than its own into cells. When we compared the membrane-crossing activity of KST peptide in complex with Avidin (KST–Av complex) with that of similarly linked canonical TAT peptide, we found that TAT peptide penetrated SK-N-SH human neuroblastoma cells at a similar rate and efficiency as the KST peptide. Furthermore, KST peptide can carry protein complexes consisting of a specific antibody coupled to the peptide through the Avidin bridge. An antibody to Hsp70 delivered to SK-N-SH cells with high expression level of Hsp70 reduced the protective power of the chaperone and sensitized the cells to the pro-apoptotic effect of staurosporine. We studied the mechanisms of penetration of KST–Av and full-length Hsp70 inside human neuroblastoma SK-N-SH and human erythroleukemia K-562 cells and found that both used an active intracellular transport mechanism that included vesicular structures and negatively charged lipid membrane domains. Competition analysis of intracellular transport showed that the chaperone reduced intracellular penetration of KST peptide and conversely KST peptide prevented Hsp70 transport in a dose-dependent manner.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)343-354
Number of pages12
JournalCell Stress and Chaperones
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 13 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Cell-penetrating peptides
  • Hsp70
  • Intracellular transport
  • Membrane
  • Vesicles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'The discovery of Hsp70 domain with cell-penetrating activity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this